My experience in Norway where we had food cellars is that their winter climate is cold and dry so food stores well in those conditions.
They were part of under the house primarily.
Our climate is a lot more moist so I dont think you would be successful unless you can ensure ways of diminishing moisture levels
I wanted a cellar when we built our house but was talked out of it for various reasons, cost being one of them. Instead we got a cool store. It's a room on the south side of the house with no windows, lots of insulation and a system for pulling cool air into the room.
The temperature in the room is perfect for keeping butter soft but not too soft all year around. However....as Muri suggested the air is too moist to keep potatoes etc. All my potatoes sprout Onions do well though, and garlic.
I'm thinking of trying an earth clamp when we have the time to set it up.
Kate, for years I have stored my potatoes (Agria) in banana boxes stacked up in the back of the garage. I dry them off and sort the damaged ones then lay several sheets of newspaper over them and put the lid on. I used to block off the hand holes in the sides of the boxes, but it's not really necessary. Alongside those, I have my onions and garlic in mesh baskets. Seems to work well, but I guess it depends on your ambient temperature.
Talking about butter, I have just got one of those electric butter conditioners from Trade Me, it works very well!
Thank you for your replies.
The dampness was my concern too, I have garlic bulbs stored in the cow shed that I harvested in December looking a bit worse for wear. Oh well, back to Plan B (store in the garage too TonyB).
Kate, what is an earth clamp? I just googled the words and all sorts of electrical bits appear ?
Royal Horticultural Society
If storage space under cover is limited and you have large quantities of roots to store, consider making a clamp. This is a traditional and effective method, but be aware that rodents can cause problems.
Choose a sheltered, well-drained site. Near a house wall would be suitable
Dig a trench around the area to aid drainage
Make a 20cm (8in) base layer of light, sandy soil or sand and cover with a layer of straw
Remove the top growth from roots to avoid crops rotting
Make a pyramid with the roots, using the largest at the bottom
Cover the whole pile with a 20cm (8in) layer of straw, followed by a 15cm (6in) layer of soil to keep out the frosts. Leave a tuft of straw emerging from the soil as a chimney for excess heat and moisture to escape
Aim to make the clamp around 1m (3¼ft) high and pat the soil smooth with the back of a spade to help water run off
So, it's just a slightly different method as opposed to hell, where roots crops are buried.
potatoes go to hell
My hell consists a large rubbish bin (plastic) with basket weave perforations and I layer the potatoes in this with pine shavings. It sits in the darkish back porch which is on the south side of the house.
OK trying to add the link, not working, have it as plain text instead
Carrots dont need to be stored in a root cellar for year round supply, they keep in the ground fine during winter and then i sow seed in June under a plastic hoop house, these will be ready but the time the seasons carrots start to go to seed
Hi Kate - a bit late but I've just seen this. I'm in Nelson and my potatoes (jersey bennes, random Red Kings, Heather and Agria) just keep going all year round. So I don't bother lifting a crop and trying to store it, I just dig a few when I need them. I'm not saying that I can keep big jacket potato sizes perfectly in suspended animation, but for general useage we get by. Apparently Agria potatoes will keep really well in the soil compared to other types and certainly mine seem to offer up big potatoes way out of season without any sprouts or scab etc.
Kate, from what I have read, potatoes store best in cool fairly humid conditions of 90-95%, but are more likely to sprout if stored with fruit, that gives off ethene.
Can you arrange your storage and ventilation so the inward air goes to the root vegetables first, and then to the fruit, to minimise the ethene they receive?
Hi, many houses in rural areas had an outdoor safe for storing veges etc in, milk even, it was on the South side of the house. Usually meat was held in there for a few days.
My folks had a "tank stand" which was made of concrete, had one vent, was about 2 or 2.5m tall, about 2m wide, with a proper door, this was a really cool spot as the water tank sat on top of it. Mum kept her potatoes, beetroot, carrots etc. in there along with preserves which kept extremely well. We used to hang meat, or poultry in there for several days after they were killed. I always reckon these were one of the best places as they were vermin,cat and anything else proof, nice and cool, and good for extra storage, and with the water tank at that height we did not need a water pump for the house water supply. Cheers.